In the Euro Area (AE), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms registered a year-on-year rate of change of -5.0% in the fourth quarter of 2020 (-4.3% in the previous quarter) and a quarter-on-quarter rate of change of -0.6% (+12.4% in the third quarter). In January, AE's economic sentiment indicator decreased as a result of the significant reduction in retail trade confidence, and to a lesser extent, the reduction in services and consumer confidence. The prices of raw materials and oil presented rates of 10.2% and 9.6% compared with the previous month, respectively (8.8% and 13.9% in December).
In Portugal, according to the flash estimate, GDP in real terms registered a year-on-year rate of change of -5.9% in the fourth quarter (-5.7% in the previous quarter). Compared to the third quarter of 2020, GDP increased 0.4% in volume, after the strong rates of change of opposite sign in the previous quarters (-13.9% and +13.3% in the second and third quarters, respectively).
Not considering three-months moving average (see next section), the information available for January, in the context of new restrictive measures to respond to the pandemic, reveals a significant reduction of economic activity in January compared to previous months. The overall amount of national withdrawals, payment of services and purchases at automatic payment terminals carried out on the automatic teller machines of the Multibanco network intensified the negative year-on-year rate of change (-18.7%, which compares with -7.8% in December and -11.8 % in November). presented in January the most negative year-on-year rate of change (-18.7%) since May. Motor vehicles sales registered rates of change of -30.5% for passenger cars, -19.2% for light commercial vehicles and -20.8% for heavy-duty vehicles (-19.6%, -19.1% and -15.7% in December, respectively, and -27.9%, -1.4% and +16.7%, in the same order, in November). The economic climate indicator decreased in January, contrary to the increase observed in December. Confidence indicators decreased in Manufacturing Industry and in Trade, while in Construction and Public Works and in Services recorded increases.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 7.1%, 0.7 percentage points less than the rate observed in the previous quarter, but 0.4 percentage points more than the rate recorded in the same period of 2019. The number of unemployed decelerated from a year-on-year rate of change of 24.9% in the third quarter to 5.9% in the fourth quarter. The labour underutilization rate was 1.1 p.p. lower than in the third quarter, standing at 13.8%, covering 750.3 thousand people (813.7 thousand in the previous quarter). The total employment presented a year-on-year decrease of 1.0% in the fourth quarter (-3.0% in the third quarter). The volume of hours actually worked decreased by 6.6% in year-on-year terms and increased by 8.5% compared to the previous quarter.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) shifted from a year-on-year rate of change of -0.2% in December to 0.3% in January, with the goods component registering rates of change of 0.3% (-0.5% in December), while the services component grew by 0.4% (0.2% in the previous month).
Despite the circumstances determined by the pandemic COVID-19, Statistics Portugal calls for the best collaboration by companies, families and public entities in responding to Statistics Portugal’s data requests. The quality of official statistics, particularly its ability to identify the impacts of the pandemic COVID-19, crucially depends on this collaboration, which Statistics Portugal thanks in advance.